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Chris Nagy on avoiding holiday weight gain

By Dr. Chris Nagy
For the Salisbury Post
It’s that time of the year again. The time when the lists come out telling us what to do to avoid the 5-10-pound weight gain that frequently occurs as a result of the many upcoming holiday festivities.
Rather than recycling the numerous articles on this topic, I have a different approach that you may wish to consider. If you wish to read the nuts and bolts and dietary do’s and don’ts, I would recommend that you consult the University of Google. Otherwise, I invite you to consider some of the thoughts below as options for maintaining your health over the upcoming holiday season.
In all matters of health, the body follows the mind. One of the most important considerations in maintaining health is winning the mental battle that occurs with each passing breath. We must ask ourselves one question, will this activity I am about to engage in make me more healthy or less healthy? The answer to this simple question immediately clarifies the path that we should follow. The nature and history of mankind has primarily been a response to short-term stimuli with a less well-developed sense of long-term planning. What feels good in the moment, may not feel so good if repeated numerous times over a lengthy period (leading to chronic degenerative disease – or weight gain over the holidays).
It is not a foregone conclusion that we must gain weight over the next two months. It is just traditionally accepted that that is what typically occurs. Decide today what your weight will be January 1, 2013. Write that number on a card and stick it on your refrigerator or other high traffic area. Every decision over the next two months will either lead you closer to or further from this number. It is nice to keep this number in mind as you navigate the many sumptuous holiday land mines ahead. This is not asking that you completely deprive yourself of occasional indulgences. It is just worthwhile to be conscious of where your decisions and choices may lead you.
Decide ahead of time where you will fail (because we all do in some way or another) and decide what your answer will be if tempted by those meaning well and offering goodies. Planning and preparation are of paramount importance if health is to be maintained and improved over the holidays. If you are aware of the obstacles you may face, it is much easier to deal with them. Deciding beforehand makes the choice easy (no, I have decided I will not have seconds of that wonderful desert). Forethought pays off if the tough choices are already made before the situation even arises. No need to stress over an answer in each case – who needs more stress over the holidays?
Eliminate guilt, recrimination and self-flagellation. If you fail in your efforts to stay on track – so what? Recognize that you stumbled, pick yourself up and vow to get back to the plan you had created for yourself in the first place. There is no success in beating yourself up over a misstep, only to fall back into the trap of what you were trying to avoid in the first place. Life happens and it is the resilience one demonstrates that will lead to success long term. If we quit every time we stumble, we’ll never reach our goals. It is the constant quest for self improvement that enables us to reach the summit.
To avoid the health challenges of the next few months, create a strong mental template of how you will navigate the abundance, prior to being placed in a difficult position. If you create the mental template of where you will be on Jan. 1, 2013, your actions and behavior will follow your thoughts. It is not just calories in and calories out and more likely should be thoughts in, actions out. Good luck as you navigate and move through the holidays and we’ll see the improved you when the new year starts.

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